The New Mutants tries to offer a compelling blend of teen drama, horror and X-Men mythos, but ultimately fails to deliver a good entry in any genre.
The X-Men franchise, which originally kicked off in 2000, comes to a whimpering end this year with the release of The New Mutants. The long-delayed final Fox X-Men movie released in theaters that were just beginning to reopen after a global pandemic had caused the shutdown of many industries around the world, including most – if not all – movie theaters. But The New Mutants faced delays even before the pandemic, as it was one of two unreleased X-Men movies acquired by Disney in their purchase of film studio 20th Century Fox. The version of The New Mutants that released in theaters was director Josh Boone’s original vision, for better or for worse. The New Mutants tries to offer a compelling blend of teen drama, horror and X-Men mythos, but ultimately fails to deliver a good entry in any genre.
The story of The New Mutants follows Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt), who wakes up in a mysterious hospital after a strange force destroyed the reservation where she lived with her father. There, she meets Dr. Cecilia Reyes (Alice Braga), who tells Dani she’s a mutant and that she’s in the hospital to learn what her powers are and how to control them. Dani’s introduced to the other young, troubled mutants at the facility: Illyana Rasputin (Anya Taylor-Joy), Sam Guthrie (Charlie Heaton), Roberto da Costa (Henry Zaga) and Rahne Sinclair (Maisie Williams). Shortly after Dani’s arrival, the teens begin to see visions of their greatest fears and it prompts them to uncover the truth about the facility and Dr. Reyes – and they learn that nothing is quite what they thought. They’ll have to band together in order to escape and save themselves.
As a premise, The New Mutants‘ blending of multiple genres sounds exciting, especially after the success of other Fox X-Men movies that had done the same to great success, like Logan and Deadpool. However, Boone – who co-wrote the script with Knate Lee in addition to directing – doesn’t pull off the mashup, leaving The New Mutants to feel like a mess of cool ideas. There’s too much X-Men mythology and superhero action distracting from the characters to allow audiences a chance to truly begin to care about the teens, but there’s also frustratingly little connectivity to the larger X-Men franchise. Then there are the horror elements, which aren’t really all that scary since their creepiness is meant to be predicated on caring about the characters. The resulting film feels more like a hodgepodge of ideas that never truly lands on a single throughline.
In terms of the stars, they’re all disappointingly relegated to one-note characters. Much of the mutants’ personalities come from the performances of the stars, but they still only feel like the sketches of fully fleshed out characters. Taylor-Joy is perhaps the biggest standout simply because she’s given the meatiest role to play with, that of Illyana, who’s the most multifaceted character simply based on how many parts she has to play in the story. She’s part survivor, part mean girl and part superhero, though The New Mutants never really delves into those characteristics. For their parts, Williams and Hunt pull off a sweet enough romance, with the pair sharing some compelling scenes together. The boys are undoubtedly the most underserved as they play opposite ends of the teen boy spectrum: Zaga’s Berto a brash and overconfident rich kid to Heaton’s shy and quiet Sam. Braga does what she can with Dr. Reyes, though the character seems to be there largely to offer exposition and move the plot forward. In the end, there’s too little character development in the script for the actors to truly excel in their roles.
To be clear, The New Mutants isn’t an unwatchable movie. Its quick pace – necessitated by its 90-minute runtime – and the brief moments focused on character, are enough to keep viewers mostly engaged in the plot, if not wholly invested in it. There’s potential in these characters and this corner of the X-Men world, but Boone’s script and directing don’t allow that potential to fully bloom. But with any kind of New Mutants franchise now a non-starter due to the Disney-Fox deal, it seems even the final cut of the movie has given up on truly launching a franchise, seemingly content to just be what it is, which isn’t very much in the end. The New Mutants is perhaps a fine first draft of a movie, but is ultimately a frustratingly mediocre watch.
That’s all to say, those interested in The New Mutants would do fine with checking it out. Boone’s film doesn’t seem destined to be very many folks’ favorite X-Men movie – nor does it seem likely to be anyone’s most hated X-Men movie. It falls somewhere in the middle, an ultimately fine but not necessarily special entry on the three-decade franchise. Like Dark Phoenix before it, The New Mutants will have its fans and detractors, but no one will feel too strongly about this middling movie. Those expecting too much of The New Mutants may be disappointed, but anyone who watches with low expectations will have a fine time. The New Mutants‘ biggest crime is having too much hype placed on it for its long-delayed release and being the final Fox X-Men movie, and ultimately delivering a largely forgettable experience.
Next: The New Mutants Movie Trailer
The New Mutants will be available on Blu-ray, 4K Ultra HD, DVD and Digital HD Tuesday, November 17. It is 94 minutes long and rated PG-13 for violent content, some disturbing/bloody images, some strong language, thematic elements and suggestive material.
Let us know what you thought of the film in the comments section!
Key Release Dates
- New Mutants (2020)Release date: Aug 28, 2020
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